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Real Humans of the MIT Sloan MBA Class of 2023

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Sean Oh, MIT Sloan MBA Class of 2023

Age: 26
Hometown: Cerritos, California
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Dartmouth College. BA in Computer Science. Minors in Human Centered Design and Digital Arts
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 Years – Product Manager at Microsoft 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Since I was a kid I wanted to start my own company but it always felt like a distant dream. In my mind I thought I should be smarter, more experienced, older before I could get started. COVID introduced a level of vulnerability that started to challenge that mindset. Prior to the pandemic I had assumed that I had my whole life to try new things and focused primarily on developing core competencies and creating the foundation for my career. The objective was great, but I could feel that mindset subtly transforming into comfort and complacency. Once the pandemic started I truly understood that “anything can happen”, including the unfortunate. That realization motivated me to take a step forward as soon as I could and put myself in an environment that would accelerate me towards entrepreneurship and bring me closer to my dream.

Why did you choose MIT Sloan? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Knowing that starting a business would be my focus in school, I looked for programs that had a mature entrepreneurial ecosystem. From the Martin Trust Center to the brand-new Innovation HQ to the 20+ entrepreneurial clubs/competitions, Sloan had everything I was looking for, not to mention the fact that MIT, as an institute, houses the greatest technological minds in the world. It’s cheesy to read and even cheesier to write, but even after one month into the program, I can attest to the palpable energy around innovation that exists all around campus.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I’ve been told that one of my strengths is a somewhat silent charisma that I carry. I won’t be the one that takes charge of a group or riles a team with a passionate speech, but I’m a huge believer in the power of strong community and will do what’s necessary to break down barriers and make people feel welcomed. I’ve found that my diverse interests allow me to easily connect with a broad range of people, helping unite a seemingly mismatched group of individuals together.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
In college I once ate Hot Cheetos Puffs for breakfast, lunch and dinner because I didn’t want to walk to the dining hall. As expected, I regretted it the next day

Post-MBA career interests:

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
– What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I think the best part of going through the application process is that it forces you to think critically about your motivations. Since we were kids we were told what our goals should be, be it getting into a good school or getting a good job, but for the first time, you realize the agency you have in your own life. That agency can be both liberating or frightening. For me, it was taking the time to reflect during the dozens of iterations of my personal statement that helped me approach it in a positive light and realize what matters to me.

– What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I’m extremely fortunate to have landed at a place that fits my needs so well but looking back, I should have spent more time talking to current students about their MBA experiences to better inform where I applied rather than being so heavily influenced by school rankings.

– What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Different from the actual essays, I remember being annoyed that every school had the same application questions about activities and job descriptions but had slightly different requirements around word/character length. There’s not much you can do other than spend the time wordsmithing but it did help having a nice bowl of sour gummies and endless lofi music to get me through it.

What is your initial impression of the MIT Sloan students/culture/community?
I was blown away at how diverse the Sloan community was. I expected to see a mix of industries but I didn’t realize how large the international demographic would be. I’ve met so many incredible people who think in such different ways from me and I’ve loved seeing how everyone’s cultural backgrounds influence the way they approach problems. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
There are so many amazing programs/experiences that business school has to offer that I often get worried that I might lose focus on what I originally came to do. A speaker once mentioned that entrepreneurship actually conflicts with the essence of an MBA because entrepreneurship requires you to fully dedicate yourself to your work and your goals while MBA programs encourage exploration and investments in your social affairs. They’re not entirely mutually exclusive but I’ll definitely have to figure out the right balance between the two.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
After a year and a half of COVID isolation I’m so excited to meet everyone in my class. At MIT Sloan there’s an inherent emphasis on the importance of community and even as a slightly introverted I can’t wait to go out and maybe even find my future co-founder!

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.